Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (2024)

Take your table tennis to the next level with paddles from Joola, Stiga and more.

By Will Porter

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Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (1)

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WHETHER YOU ARE a total newbie playing in your garage for the first time or a seasoned veteran taking on the top players at your local gym, the best ping pong paddles are the ones that make you feel the most confident when you're at the table. There are, of course, different ping pong paddles for different skill levels, but finding the right one isn’t actually that difficult.

Beginner paddles are generally the most affordable ones and feature flared handles for comfort and maneuverability along with tacky rubber surfaces for optimal forgiveness. More advanced ping pong paddles will have blades made from higher quality wood, incorporate premium materials like carbon fiber into the blade and handle, and utilize the top rubber materials you can buy, resulting in higher spin, more power, and more feel. These may set you back a bit more when it comes to the cost, but they are key to elevating your game.

Best Ping Pong Paddles

What to Consider

Intended Skill Level

When choosing a ping pong paddle, knowing your skill level, and what skill level the paddle is intended for, is crucial. Beginners should opt for affordable paddles with greater control and forgiveness, which often have a larger sweet spot and softer rubber. Intermediate players will want to prioritize paddles that balance control and speed, while advanced players often will want to choose paddles that maximize spin and speed. Understanding what the paddle you’re choosing was made for will ensure that you select a paddle that enhances your strengths and helps improve your weaknesses.

Read more: Best Pickleball Paddles

Blade Material

The blade material is one of the most important factors in determining a paddle’s performance. Paddles typically are made with wood or composite materials (including carbon fiber, like the Stiga paddle above). Wood blades offer better control and feel, making them the best bet for beginners and intermediate players. Composite blades provide more speed and a pure sweet spot, which is better for advanced players seeking power and precision.

Rubber

The rubber on a ping pong paddle affects spin, speed, and control. Soft rubber provides better control and is best for beginners who want more accuracy. Medium-hard rubber mixes spin and speed, making it best for intermediate players. Advanced players often choose harder rubber for maximum spin and speed. Additionally, the rubber's tackiness makes a big difference when it comes to generating speed.

Read more: Best Tennis Rackets for Beginners

Is It Better to Have a Light or Heavy Ping Pong Paddle?

The style of your play usually dictates if you want to go light or heavy in your paddle weight. A lightweight ping pong paddle always for faster reactions, easier maneuverability and better spin movements (easier to flick the wrist quick to generate). A heavier ping pong paddle will give you more power and better momentum when returning powerful shots. A heavier paddle can also help with control when playing defense, as you don't need to generate as much force to send a good shot back.

How We Selected

While you could spend a day sifting through the multitude of options, as you might assume by walking through the sporting goods section at your local Target or Walmart, that probably isn’t absolutely necessary. In spite of the sheer volume of paddles stocked at our favorite retailers, our team at Men’s Health thinks that a few top picks stand out above the rest. To find our top ping pong paddles, our editors and writers looked at paddle design notes (like the blade material and rubber), the intended skill level of the paddle, and the price point. Lastly, we considered popular opinion from the gaming community on forums like r/tabletennis on Reddit.

Read on to get the skinny on our top five favorite ping pong paddles you can buy right now.

Best Overall Ping Pong Paddle

Killerspin Jet 200 Table Tennis Paddle

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (8)

Pros
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (9)Adapts to any style of play
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (10)Suitable for both beginner and intermediate skill levels
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (11)Emphasizes ball control to help players improve quickly
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (12)Comes with storage box
Cons
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (13)Better players may want more speed and spin control

For anyone from an early beginner to intermediate player, whether it’s your first time playing ping pong or you’re starting to compete at your local club, this paddle is our top pick. The paddle is lighter than most of the affordable options you’ll find, which allows for more speed and paddle control across a number of shot types. It also has a storage box to keep it safe when you’re done for the day.

Read more: Best Portable Basketball Goals

Weight175 grams
Blade Material5-ply Wood

Best Upgrade Ping Pong Paddle

Stiga Pro Carbon Table Tennis Racket

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (14)

Pros
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (15)Extra light blade means more power, faster returns, and more feel
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (16)Carbon increases paddle speed and power
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (17)Smooth inverted S5 rubber adds spin and control
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (18)Well-balanced paddle for advanced training and competition
Cons
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (19)A bit spendy, even for better players that aren’t competing
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (20)Less experienced players may want more forgiveness

For players looking to get the most from their ping pong paddle and really start to compete, we recommend the Stiga Pro Carbon Performance-Level Table Tennis Racket. The blade features five layers of wood but is reinforced with two layers of carbon fiber, which lowers the weight of the paddle, allowing for more speed, power, and control when the game starts to heat up. It’s a bit more on the expensive side compared to other paddles on the list but we think that 95% of players will get everything they need from a paddle at this price point.

Read more: Best Air Hockey Tables

Weight159 grams
Blade Material5-ply wood, 2-ply carbon fiber

Best Budget Ping Pong Paddle

Joola Omega Control

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (21)

Pros
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (22)Price is ideal for building up a beginner set
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (23)Made by a reputable, well-loved table tennis brand
Cons
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (24)Better players might not get the precise control they want

If you’re outfitting your game room or garage with new ping pong paddles, the Joola Omega Control is your best bet. The price can’t be beat—in fact, it’d be tough to find performance level paddles for a better price anywhere. They are still pretty lightweight, given their affordability, and allow for players of all skill levels to have fun. We also think you can’t go wrong with anything from Joola, a well-known enthusiast brand we also loved when we were ranking the best ping pong tables.

Weight190 grams
Blade MaterialWood

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Best Ping Pong Paddle Set

Pro Spin Ping Pong Paddles 2-Player Set

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Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (26)

Now 25% Off

Pros
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (27)Comes with balls and carrying case
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (28)Smooth handles for grip comfort
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (29)Available in 4-player set too
Cons
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (30)Won’t deliver the speed of more advanced paddles

If you don’t want to buy paddles one at a time, you can’t do much better than the Pro-Spin High-Performance set. The set is almost always well-stocked and available at multiple retailers, so you can pick up a set anytime. The two-player set is a great deal at just $30 for two paddles, three balls, and a carrying case, but the four-person set is an even better value at just $40, so we love it for bulk buying, as well. The paddle handles are smooth and comfortable to hold, while the included rubber is perfect for beginners and intermediate players, alike.

Weight272 grams
Blade Material7-Ply Wood

One More Great Ping Pong Paddle

Joola Infinity Balance

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (31)

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (32)

Now 17% Off

Pros
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (33)Great for players looking to improve beyond beginner level
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (34)More affordable than other performance paddles
Cons
  • Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (35)Heavier than most others on the list

If you’re a ping pong player looking to level up, the Joola Infinity Balance is our pick for taking your skills up a notch. The price is manageable and you get great features, including a 7-ply wood blade and a well-balanced rubber that provides great speed, control, and spin. The flared grip will feel familiar to beginners, making for an easier transition to more advanced play and better technique in all facets of the game.

Read more: Pickleball Paddles for Beginners

Weight260 grams
Blade Material7-Ply Wood

Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (36)

Do Expensive Ping Pong Paddles Make a Difference?

Buying an expensive paddle usually gets you better material quality, especially when it comes to the blade and rubber. A better blade material and rubber can help with improved power, control, and spin. Expensive paddles also usually last longer, as they're made to be more durable. Customization is another unique benefit to buying an expensive paddle, as you can build a paddle to your specific liking.

Of course, brand name sometimes inflates the price of a ping pong paddle. However, you aren't always just paying for the name. Any of the expensive paddles we recommend are definitely worth buying if you are serious about your game.

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Upgrade Your Game With This $30 Ping Pong Paddle (2024)

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